Learn from rise of China ….In 1890, the US Navy Captain Alfred T. Mahan published his book “The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783”, which laid the theoretical foundation for the modern sea power theory. Ten years later, Mahan’s works began to be serialized in a Chinese newspaper “East Asia Times” in Shanghai; this was the first time for Chinese readers to have access to Mahan’s theory. At that time, the Chinese nation was on the brink of extinction, and many thinkers were contemplating on how to save the country’s fate. Mahan’s theory soon attracted the attention of Chinese politicians and militarists and caused a great impact.
The new Indonesia leader Ir. Joko widodo particularly respected Mahan’s sea power ideology. He believed the rise and fall of the country was closely related to maritime power, he also mentioned on inauguration speech: Jokowi’s election victory presents several opportunities for Indonesia to deepen its cooperation among countries in the world, particularly on maritime security, democracy promotion, and global governance. Domestically, Jokowi will seek to boost Indonesia’s maritime resource development and infrastructure, through, among other things, the development of an inter-island marine highway. Internationally, he envisions the further development of the country’s naval and maritime security capabilities, placing maritime and border issues — such as securing Indonesia’s maritime resources and sea lines of communication — at the heart of the country’s diplomacy.
Jokowi’s inauguration. Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who took office as the seventh president of the Republic of Indonesia on October 20, delivered one of the briefest presidential inaugural speeches in the nation’s history. Inaugural speeches matter because they carry important messages of how a newly elected leader will steer people toward development and the ideals of democracy. Traditionally, an inaugural speech is a critical opportunity for a president to communicate his or her vision and goals for the country. The main body of his speech described his broad vision for a stronger Indonesia, with a small portion focusing on his primary goal to booster the nation’s maritime strengths. Jokowi believed that now is time to return to “Jalesveva Jayamahe,” the motto of Indonesian Navy in the Sanskrit language, meaning, “At the sea, we will triumph.”
The Maritime concept from his speech:
- We have to work hard to restore Indonesia as a maritime country. The oceans, the seas, the bays, and the straits are the future of our civilization. (Geographic Constelation of Indonesia)
- We have far too long turned our back on the seas, the oceans, the straits, and the bays. It’s time to restore everything so that “jalesveva jayamahe” (in the sea we will triumph), a slogan used by our forefathers, will echo again. (the Way of life)
- As the captain of the ship as trusted by the people, I urge you all to get on the ship of the Republic of Indonesia and sail towards Indonesia Raya (Great Indonesia). We will raise the mast, a strong one. We will face the tides in the ocean with our own power. And I will stand with the people and the Constitution. May God bless our noble intention. (Principle of Maritime Concept)
The second paragraph, it is not a coincidence that there is motto Jalesveva Jayamahe has always underlies the Navy in carrying out the role and duties. However, it illustrates that the spirit of struggle Jalesveva Jayamahe an ancestral heritage that must be maintained for the betterment of the nation of Indonesia. Thus, what has been affirmed by the President and the Vice President is in line with the development process and the achievement of the vision of the Navy in order Jalesveva Jayamahe. This is an opportunity and challenges that must be followed by careful and appropriate steps for the Navy to support the government’s program to develop Indonesia as World Maritime axis. Hence, the birth of a new concept through New Paradigm World Class Navy, would be a step in the right to set the power and capabilities of the Navy a reliable and respected as well as world-class.
On the other hand What Happened in China ?
“As the world situation changes, national strength goes up and down, which is often caused by sea power instead of land power, the nation with dominant sea power often surpasses others.” In an article specializing on the Pacific issues he wrote: “What is the problem of the Pacific? It is the sea power issue among countries. The struggle for sea power moved from the Mediterranean into the Atlantic Ocean, and now from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific. “…the problem in the Pacific concerns the survival and fate of the Chinese nation.” “The center of the Pacific is China. The Struggle for Pacific sea power is indisputably the struggle for China’s gateway. Whoever holds this gateway gets both the access to the hinterland and rich resources. Other countries are coveting this, how can we put it aside?”
Influenced by Mahan’s sea power theory, Sun Yat-sen advocated putting the building of Navy at the core of national defense construction: “The Navy is the base for strength and prosperity. As is often said by people in Britain and the United States, whoever dominates the sea, dominates world trade; whoever dominates world trade dominates the Golconda; whoever dominates the Golconda dominates the world.” “Boost the shipping industry to expand the Navy, make the national Navy of our country keep pace with the big powers, and get into first first-class power. The only way for China to be prosperous is to develop its military arms.”
In times when China was not reunified, facing foreign aggression, weak in strength and military force, sea power was just a part of their super power dream for Sun Yat-sen and strategic thinkers of that era. China, as “the center of the Pacific” not only did not have the strength to compete for sea power, but became the target of competing powers. However, the sea power dream, as one of the main driving forces in modern Chinese history, had a far-reaching impact. Chinese communist leaders, from Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping to Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, although not explicitly putting forward sea power thoughts, always used “build a powerful navy” as an incentive slogan to officers and soldiers of the Navy.
In the 21st century, with the increase of China’s national strength and the rise of its international status, sea power theory is once again inspiring Chinese strategic thinkers. The Chinese people for the first time since the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 truly have the strength base and interests need to discuss naval strategies. A century’s sea power dream has become attainable. Over the past 10 years, a great debate on sea power has taken place in China’s academic and strategic thinking circles.
Some scholars conclude from history and experience of other countries that the rise of China needs the development of sea power and the establishment of a strong Navy. Some are of the view that:
(1) Sea power is an important factor in the rise and fall of a country. Historically, coastal countries without strong navy and maritime forces will have no sea power, and therefore no guarantee of sovereignty. In the five large-scale invasions by imperialists into modern China, the control of China’s coastal by Navy all played the role of forerunner. The fundamental reason for the failure of modern Chinese Navy is the development of the Navy has never been integrated into the development of sea power.
(2) After the emergence of world trade, humans entered the “era of the Ocean”. Survival in the future and sustainable development require China to take big strides towards the sea, and a country that steps towards the sea must have sea power.
(3) A country’s reliance on sea in an era of globalization is an inevitable logic in the development of sea power. Sea power is the lifeline of China’s market economy. The original departure point of China’s sea power development strategy in future should no doubt be established on “dependent export-oriented economy dependent on the marine channel”. The civilization transition of Chinese society forces us to move land power to sea power.
(4) From the geo-strategic perspective, eight countries among China’s nine neighboring countries around its territorial waters have marine territory dispute with China. Maritime security has become the main part of China’s national security. The core issue to solve the Taiwan imbroglio is the issue of Chinese Navy; economic globalization cannot exclude globalization of self-defense means; and the ability to defend overseas energy and free trade depends on overseas military delivery capability. With the expansion of its overseas interests, China’s security boundary has already far exceeded the territory boundary, which demands that China have a corresponding overseas military capability.
In My Conclusion, the rise of Indonesia Maritime Power to Face the 21th Maritime Silk Road of China, base on:
(1) from the perspective of historical experience, it is history that decides sea power, rather than sea power deciding history;
(2) the logic that economic globalization calls for sea power to protect international market and resources is to pursue “absolute security” and “absolute self-help” and “absolute means”, which is impossible as proved by history and reality;
(3) the idea that sea power is a must for the rise of power is not only a misunderstanding of history but ignores the objective conditions to attain sea power, as not all countries are able to grow into a sea power;
(4) the logic that maritime forces share the hegemony reverses cause and effect. In short, it is sea power that caters to the strategy, rather than the strategy catering to sea power.
US and China
I do believes that the development of military strength is to achieve the national strategic objective, instead of realizing China maritime power dream; just to deter US intervention in the Taiwan Strait, they do not need to develop a Navy that can compete with the US. Missiles, air force, underwater Navy and effective nuclear deterrent are more effective than expensive Navy’s surface force; one-sided pursuit of ocean-going Navy will only bring us burden or even disaster, for the US may think us challenging its supremacy at sea, and all the other Asian countries will be anxious about the competition between China and the US for supremacy at sea; as a land and sea country, China always cannot devote too many resources on sea, because the Navy is much more expensive than the Army; China must develop the navy according to its capability, and military forces must comply with the country’s overall interests.
As far as I am concern each country should trade off the development of land power and sea power according to its natural endowment, and the ultimate goal should be the long-term development of the nation. From the macro-historical point of view, the development of land power is more persistent, while marine space has the nature of liquidity, uncertainty, instability and sea forces are unsustainable, converge fast, and disappear fast. Human society has some extent of initiative to change certain aspects of the natural limitation, but there is a limit. The effort will end in failure if there is bid to change land to sea or vice versa.
Therefore, only having military power at sea is not enough to be a sea power. The traditional Western concept of sea power does not adapt to the current development of China’s sea power; it is unlikely for China to become a sea power, even unlikely to become a power having both land and sea power. The only way for China is to become a land power with a strong navy.
“The dynamic between China and the United States today is closely reminiscent of the 19th century, when Britain attempted to keep a young America under control… As China grows out of its isolation and attains greater influence internationally, there is a very real risk that the United States will repeat the mistakes of past great powers, and try to contain China.” That was some point of view from scholarship.
China should take the multiple needs of its own national strategy as the starting point, realistically understand the sea power issue in Sino-US relations, and do all it can to avoid conflict with the US; further strengthen the Sino-US maritime military safety consultation mechanism; increase mutual understanding and mutual trust on security to reduce or avoid conflict; and carefully promote the orderly development of sea power, including naval and air force, seeking peace with strength.
Sea Power as a symbol of greatness has been a dream of Chinese for centuries, and until recent years this theory provided the material base to be considered seriously. The debate around this theory in the past decade, mixed with academic and emotional thinking, is far from enough to meet the development of the global trends and China’s overseas interests. Today and the future Indonesia in the real moment to debate and do a serious also regarding with Global Maritime Axix, in-depth study of Sea Power when the dream has come true.